Discopathy and treatment

Back pain and low back pain – often caused by Discopathy.

Below we will look at the methods of treatment of Discopathy.

The spine is formed by vertebrae that have small, porous intervertebral discs. They form a fibrocartilage joint which allows a small amount of movement between the individual vertebral bodies, and plays the role of a link that holds them together. Their role as shock absorbers in the spine is crucial in transferring the weight of the head and shoulder girdle to the pelvis and legs.

Each intervertebral disc is made up of an outer fibrous ring, in the center of which is a core with a jelly-like structure. The fibrous ring is made up of several layers of type 1 and type 2 collagen. The first type of collagen is located on the outer part of the ring, where more strength is needed. This is very important so that it can withstand the forces of pressure exerted on the core. On the other hand, the fibrous ring also protects the bone structure of the vertebrae from damage when greater compressive forces are applied. The soft core contains free fibers in a medium of semi-liquid protein gel. It absorbs the stress of the forces of pressure on the vertebrae and at the same time keeps them separated from each other.

back pain 1

There is one intervertebral disc between every two vertebrae, except for between the first cervical vertebra (atlas) and the second (axis) where there is no such disc, due to the peculiarity of their functionality. The intervertebral cartilaginous discs are 23 in number – 6 cervical, 12 thoracic and 5 lumbar.

Due to the peculiarity of this structure, certain changes in the seemingly healthy intervertebral discs are possible. When severe changes occur in the fibrous ring or nucleus that impair its functionality and integrity, the main symptom is back pain, which is diagnosed as discopathy.

It can occur at any level in the spine, but is more common in the lumbar region, followed by the cervical and rarely in the thoracic.

Causes of Discopathy are:

  • Degenerative changes in the intervertebral discs – 40 years ago 25% of people showed an increased level of changes in one or more areas, and for people over 40 years this was 60%. Over time, the nucleus dehydrates and the level of proteoglycans decreases. The elastic function of the nucleus decreases and cannot effectively absorb the forces of pressure between the vertebrae. The thickness of the intervertebral disc decreases with age, which is due to and decreases in total body height.
  • Possible injuries to the spine, which affect the structure of the intervertebral discs and weaken their function. Small cracks can be observed, which compromise the strength of the fibrous ring. This is a prerequisite for the pressure exerted on the nucleus to cause a more serious rupture over time, to push it out to the spinal canal, at the base of the spinal nerves.

 

Symptoms of Discopathy:

  • Pain of varying intensity, located in the area close to the damaged intervertebral disc.
  • Numbness or muscle spasms, again, in the affected area of the spine.
  • A combination of the previous two, which are already associated with impaired blood circulation, which can also cause irritation of the roots of the spinal nerves. This leads to a feeling of tingling and muscle weakness along the course of the affected nerve.

You can see all this with the following video:

 

Treatment of Discopathy

Treatment of discopathy with allopathic medicine:

  • Medication treatment
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs – ibuprofen, diclofenac, indomethacin, nimesulide, noramidopyrine and others in the form of tablets, capsules, creams, and gels.
  • Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – oral forms of prednisone and methylprednisolone
  • Epidural injections of corticosteroid
  • Conservative treatment includes
  • Bed rest with a slight reduction in risky physical activity
  • Physiotherapy and rehabilitation (kinesitherapy), manual therapy
  • Weight control to normal values
  • Laser therapy
  • Prolotherapy – injection of glucose, dextrose, platelet plasma, bone marrow or adipose tissue into the affected area

In case of severe pain and inability to control the symptoms, you can contact a specialized medical center.

дикопатия

 

Treatment of discopathy with Alternative Medicine

  • Homeopathic treatment of discopathy:
  • Pain and tingling coming from disorders of fibro-cartilage structures:

RUS TOXICODENDRON 9 CH, ARNICA MONTANA 9 CH, POTASSIUM BICHROMICUM 5 CH, RUTA GRAVEOLENS 5 CH, RADIUM BROMATUM 9 CH

Treatment of discopathy with Ayurveda medicine

Ayurveda believes that this problem is due to the imbalance of Vata energy.

  • Panchakarma procedures
  • Snehana – external therapy with body oil
  • Bashpa Sweda – steam therapy with herbal decoctions
  • Ruksha Sweda – heat therapy with cotton bags filled with herbal powder
  • Virechana therapy – use of a laxative
  • Matra Vasti – enema with healing oil
  • Kashaya Vasti – enema with healing oil, herbal decoction, and honey

In Bulgaria, treatment of discopathy with the methods of Panchakarma is carried out in an Ayurveda clinic.

аюрведа

 

Treatment of discopathy with yoga poses

йога

 

You can start a practice by gradually going through several stages.

  • Stage 1 perform lighter postures, in the period of acute and severe pain
  • Makarasana
  • Jyestikasana
  • Advasana
  • Shavasanа
  • Stage 2 is performed when the pain is reduced
  • Bhujangasana
  • Uttitha Ardha Shalabasana
  • Ardha Chakrasana
  • Marjasana
  • Stage 3 is performed when the pain has disappeared
  • Shalabasana
  • Dhanurasana
  • Ushtrasana

In each of the three stages, one hour before or 2 hours after the evening meal, Pawanmuktasana can be performed to reduce the blockages in the flow of Prana energy, which is characteristic of Discopathy.

You can sit in a chair with an upright spine and palms on your knees. Breathe diaphragmatically, deeply, and rhythmically through the nose. For 5 minutes, pay close attention as you inhale to inflating the abdomen then pressing the abdominal muscles to the spine while exhaling. This will reduce back pain and have a beneficial effect in the treatment of discopathy.

Sample video for a yoga class in the treatment of discopathy:

Often, mild to moderate discopathy can be treated conservatively and non-operatively. If you experience severe and excruciating pain with spinal movement disorders, muscle weakness, and tingling in a certain area of ​​the body, it is a good idea to tell your doctor. The presence of the next stage of increased discopathy – disc herniation – is possible.

Discopathy and herbal treatment – is it possible?

Very often, spinal problems begin with mild pain in the buttocks, excessive muscle tension in the shoulders and neck, or painful sensations between the shoulder blades. It sometimes happens that these signs disappear on their own, but most often the symptoms worsen and the pain begins to pass in the limbs, accompanied by stiffness, cramps, or numbness. These are the most common symptoms accompanying degenerative diseases of the spine, from which more and more young people are suffering.
Continue reading “Discopathy and herbal treatment – is it possible?”

What is neck discopathy?

Discopathy as a disease

Discopathy is damage to the elastic discs located between the vertebrae of the spine. The disease can affect all three areas of the spine – cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. Neck discopathy is the second most common after lumbar. Injuries to it painfully and severely restrict the movements of the neck and head, affecting the shoulders, shoulders, arms.
Дископатия на костите на врата
The role of the discs is like that of springs – they cushion the vibrations during movement and torsion, as well as the pressure on the vertebrae of the spine. It is under constant pressure, as it resists gravity so that you can remain upright. In addition, the discs, along with the intervertebral joints, contribute to the flexibility of the spine. The structure of the intervertebral discs includes a soft core and a protective ring descried as fibrous. In its optimal state, the core is very watery and gelatinous, and the ring is made of densely layered collagen fibers. With age, this structure begins to change as, degenerative processes develop. The nucleus displaces, compresses, and swells the ring, causing cracks and other defects, even rupture. In this way, the core can protrude beyond the area of ​​the disk, and it “flattens”. When the nucleus swells or protrudes, the nerves that exit the spinal cord into the space where the disc is located can be compressed and inflamed. If the discopathy is posterior to the spinal canal, particles from the disc can press on the spinal cord. Nerve irritation then causes pain and immobility. Discopathy usually occurs at an active age – degenerative changes begin around the age of 30 and its progression and manifestations are unique to the individual. With greater physical activity – for example in athletics, it is often a matter of accumulated numerous microtraumas. Damage can also result from severe injury in an accident. A number of everyday factors that are constantly recurring also predispose to the appearance and development of the disease:
  • incorrect posture when walking
  • carrying heavy bags over the shoulder
  • crouching when working at a computer or doing other activities on a desk, table, counter
  • prolonged unchanged postures such as long-distance truck driving
  • heavy lifting, etc.
Symptoms of dyspnea in the cervical spine The spinal cervical region includes 7 vertebrae – from the skull to above the thoracic region. Here the discopathy occurs when part of the disc enters the spinal canal and this causes compression of the spinal cord. The disease has specific manifestations according to the location, because at each level of the vertebrae, the spinal cord and nerve roots are “responsible” for different parts of the body. Neck discopathy most often affects the space between the fifth and sixth, and the sixth and seventh vertebrae, where the tension is greatest.
Дископатия и болка във врата
In these cases, the development of the disease, respectively leads to numbness and pain in the arms, affecting the elbow area; muscle weakness (specifically the biceps); swelling and numbness of the fingers; stiffening of the back of the shoulders and arms, and to some extent on the forearm; and clenching the fist is very difficult. If the discopathy is between vertebrae 2 and 3, symptoms include numbness and decreased mobility of the tongue, headache, problems with head movement, vision problems. Discopathy between the cervical vertebrae 3 and 4 causes pain in the neck, as well as in the clavicle, and there are difficulties in the movement of the head and shoulders. If the injury is on the disc between vertebrae 4 and 5, pain and tingling appear in the shoulder and shoulder area, the deltoid muscle weakens, and the movements of the shoulder and arm are limited, especially when lifting objects. If the discopathy occurs suddenly – say, due to a rupture of the ring on impact, then the pain is severe. But with the gradual development of the disease, the initial symptoms can be perceived as insignificant – neck pain is relatively mild, intensifying with attempts to move the head or shoulders. People often reassure themselves that they “just slept badly” or are “bruised.” However, the duration of the symptoms should suggest that they are not harmless, even if they subside. A doctor should be consulted in any instances of numbness; pain or tingling in the neck, arms, and shoulders; cramps, heaviness, weakening of their muscular strength, limited mobility, and delayed reflexes. 

Diagnosis of neck dyscopathy

Discopathy (rupture of the fibrous ring and the exit of the nucleus of the disc) in the cervical area is not the only cause of tingling, pain and restricted movement in varying degrees of neck, shoulders, and arms. Symptoms similar to discopathy can be caused by other diseases related to the structure and nutrition of the discs and vertebrae.
Изследване за дископатия на врата
Examples are:
  • different types of rheumatic diseases
  • dislocation of the vertebrae due to damaged and altered discs
  • endocrine diseases, damage to blood vessels and poor blood supply to the discs
  • inflammation of the discs and vertebrae, tumors and other more common or less common causes.
Therefore, accurate diagnosis is needed The most accurate diagnosis is made by magnetic resonance imaging. The method is based on radio waves creating a magnetic field. The problem area is scanned with focus on the discs and vertebrae. Their condition is accurately displayed and reveals pathologies of soft and bone tissue. The patient lies on a “table” that slides forward into the scanner and adjusts to the desired area to be imaged. The patient should not move during the procedure. The method avoids X-ray irradiation. Another method of diagnosis is computed tomography, which also accurately shows the ejection or rupture of the disc, the possible displacement of the vertebrae, calcifications, etc. X-rays in various projections are also used to detect degenerative changes. Myelography is less commonly used. It involves the insertion of a contrast agent into the spinal canal and X-ray scanning. Treatment of cervical discopathy There are different ways to treat neck discopathy. In most cases, it goes away without surgery, surgery is resorted to only in very advanced stages of the disease, which are not affected by conservative methods. The overall goal is to eliminate the pain and prevent it from happening again.
Лечение на дископатия шийна област
Conservative treatment is especially effective in the early stages of discopathy or when there is still no rupture but swelling of the ring. It includes extra rest, physical activity in a certain mode, painkillers, physiotherapy, and more. Very useful are specialized massages to correct micro-displacements, and to improve blood supply, metabolism, and the flow of nerve impulses transmitted from the spinal cord to the organs. As for drugs to relieve pain and inflammation, a number of non-steroidal drugs are used in conservative treatment – heparin, ketoprofen, ibuprofen, diclofenac. In rare cases, cortisone is injected into the spinal canal, which has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. Kinesitherapy is widely used. According to the diagnosis, a program of recovery procedures and exercises is prepared. Inversion therapy, yoga techniques, etc. are also applicable methods. An auxiliary neck collar made of soft foam, hard plastic or metal can also be used. It supports the neck and holds it in the necessary position during the treatment. Anatomical pillows are often recommended, which keep the neck in the required position during sleep to avoid undue stress on the vertebrae and discs, respectively. Surgery is the last approach when the damage to the disc is too great. If the pain does not go away after conservative treatment and muscle weakness persists, surgery is considered. The main operative method is microdiscectomy, in which the inside of the damaged disc is removed with the help of a microscope and a minimal incision. According to the indications, techniques of minimal intervention are applied, such as coblation, removing of the damaged disc through special electrodes through the skin.

Can inversion tables help after surgical treatment of discopathy or stenosis?

The inversion table is a device that uses gravity to release pressure and tension in the spine. When using it, the head is placed lower than the level of the legs. Thus, the inversion table decompresses the spine and this helps to release tension and relieve pain in the vertebrae.

There are different types of inversion tables. Some have massage and warm-up features. Through a convenient controller, the user can adjust the strength, type, and time of the massage. It has a lumbar pad that offers 2 types of massage, 3 steps, and a duration of 5 or 10 minutes.

Using such an inversion table every day for only a few minutes helps with:

  • coping with stress
  • strengthening muscles
  • relieving pain and tension in the back and lower back, especially when caused by a herniated disc or stenosis
  • increasing the body’s flexibility 

However, if you have hypertension, glaucoma, or heart disease, be sure to consult a doctor before using the inversion table.

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Disc herniation (discopathy)

This condition affects the spine. It is the rupture the outer fibrous ring of the discs between the vertebrae, allowing the soft central part to deform and enter the spinal canal. There it presses the structures that are in  canalin canal.

The main symptoms of discopathy are local pain, according to the severity, which spreads to the sensory area of ​​the respective nerve root and affects sensitivity. You can also feel motor weakness, as well as pelvic – reservoir disorders.

A disc herniation can occur on any disc in the spine, but the two most common forms are cervical (in the cervical or neck region) and lumbar (in the lumbar or waist region). The latter causes pain in the lower back, and even in one or both legs. Lumbar disc herniation is 15 times more common and is among the most common causes of low back pain. Disc herniations usually occur in people between the ages of 30 and 50.

Treatment of lumbar disc herniation can be conservative or operative and depends on the stage and severity of the disease.

Non-surgical treatment includes:

  • rest
  • stretching exercises 
  • analgesics
  • physiotherapy and other therapies

It usually gives good results in milder cases.

Stenosis

This is not one of the diseases that is often heard or written about. However, it has a serious effect on the body and can cause significant damage. It is a narrowing and can occur in various parts of the body such as blood vessels, intestines, and esophagus.

There is a spinal stenosis that occurs in the spine. It narrows the canal of the spinal cord, which leads to spinal cord damage due to compression. Formal stenosis can narrow the openings of the nerve roots, which exit the spinal cord and reach various organs. Spinal cord stenosis most commonly occurs in the lumbar region. The lower back begins to hurt, and when walking, there are pains in the legs, which can be very serious.

The disease occurs in both adults and young people who have curvatures of the spine. It may be congenital, and the changes may affect the vertebrae and the discs between them. Thus, over the years, they wear out and lose their properties, which easily results in deformations.

Before treatment, an accurate diagnosis must be made:

  • It is best to do this with magnetic resonance imaging.
  • Another suitable method is computed tomography.
  • A myelogram is often used, in which a special substance is injected into the spinal canal.

Different types of medicine can be chosen for the treatment of the disease – allopathic and homeopathic. The first has both conservative and operative treatment, while the second uses the Indian medical science of Ayurveda. The disease can also be treated with yoga. Specially selected physical activity has a great effect.

The use of inversion tables gives very good results, too. They help with both stenosis and discopathy. We can have the inversion table as a home fitness device, which is extremely easy to use.

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If you use it for a few minutes, not even every day, you can quickly feel a positive change. The device moves the body, not load it. The muscular connections are balanced and so the pain gradually decreases. The exercises are non-strenuous, easy, and are recommended for anyone with stenosis and back problems. The inversion table can also be used by completely healthy people. They strengthen the main muscles with exercises in the inverted position of the body.

Two types of inversion tables can be found on the Bulgarian market – one is the American Teeter, and the other – Emer, which is produced in the Chinese operations of the company. The former can be used for both active and passive exercises.

They help to strengthen the muscles and increase flexibility. Muscle tone is improved and stress is reduced. In passive exercises there is no effort and through them, the joints and discs are rejuvenated.

The device tilts at an angle set by the user. The positive effects are obtained at an angle of 20 degrees, and complete release of tension in the spine is achieved at 60 degrees. When the body is upside down, there is room for more stretching and exercise. The inversion table can also be used for abdominal presses, sitting, and squats.

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Inversion tables can help people who have to remain in static positions for a long time. This may be because their work involves long-distance driving or hours spent bent over a desk, computer, or sewing machine. If you have chosen such a profession, you should exercise regularly. Inactivity is the main “helper” of back and lower back pain. In addition to exercise, attention should be paid to a maintaining a healthy diet.

You can safely try using the inversion table before deciding on surgery, which is the most extreme measure, although doctors often recommend it. According to experts, inversion table exercises can not only relieve pain, but also cure it in many cases and prevent surgery.

Each operation is followed by a rehabilitation period, during which the patient returns to normal life. The main goal is to restore the muscular corset that holds each person’s spine. It is advisable for the person who has been operated on to entrust the monitoring his recovery of normal movement to specialists or to a clinic or a ward with the necessary devices and programs.

The course of treatment usually combines different interventions for each patient, depending on his condition. These are most often therapeutic exercise, gymnastics, massage, and physiotherapy procedures, all done in the presence of therapists.

Inversion tables can also be used for rehabilitation after disc herniation or stenosis surgery. However, this can be done only after a doctor’s permission and necessarily under the supervision of a rehabilitator.

The inversion tables we’re talking about are the result of the ingenious idea of ​​a professional athlete named Roger Teeter. After an accident, he suffered from unbearable back pain for 5 years. The pain was also a consequence of his being a professional water skier. In search of a solution to his problem, he discovered that turning the body upside down helps to restore the spine and relieves pain.

Thus, with inversion therapy, the graduate engineer and inventor overcame his pain. Teeter then founded a company called Sky’s the Limit to make inversion devices. It first produced gravity boots and then the inversion table called Teeter. For more than 50 years, Teeter has been involved in fitness and sports activities.

Now our company leads the field in the production of investment vehicles and technical innovations. The inversion tables are readily available and can be easily ordered online. They are offered with a guide for using them, as well as a 1 to 5-year warranty. Plus, they are extremely light and comfortable to use. They are practical, too, because they can be folded and stored in any convenient place in your home.

Can injections prevent surgery for discopathy?

When discopathy, also known as degenerative disc disease (DDD), is diagnosed, one of the first things many patients ask is, “Will I need surgery to solve the problem?” For most people, the answer is no. In fact, you must have quite serious symptoms for your doctor to recommend surgery.

Degenerative disc disease is an age-related condition that occurs when one or more discs between the vertebrae of the spine deteriorate or break down, leading to pain.

Your doctor may suggest an injection or medication to help deal with your pain. The severity of your symptoms determines what medications you may need, and it also matters whether your pain is acute or chronic.

Acute pain is sometimes described as feeling a sudden flame.

Chronic pain is long-term, and as the disease progresses, you are more likely to have chronic pain than acute pain.

As with any medication or injection, you should not take anything without first consulting your doctor to see if this is really the best option for you. You will most likely go through a progression of medications starting with over-the-counter drugs.

If they do not work, your doctor may prescribe stronger ones. But even if they don’t help, then you can resort to injections that send the stronger drug right into the source of the pain.

Causes of this condition

Intervertebral discs, also known as intervertebral fibrocartilage or spinal discs, provide padding between the vertebrae of the spine. They have an elastic structure composed of fibrocartilage tissue.

The outer part of the disc is known as the annulus fibus. It is tough and fibrous and consists of several overlapping layers. The inner core of the disc is the nucleus pulposus. It is soft and gelatinous. Intervertebral discs reduce stress when your spine moves or carries your weight. They also help the spine to bend.

With age, repetitive daily loads on the spine and accidental injuries, including minor and unnoticed ones, can damage the discs.

The changes include:

  • Fluid loss: The intervertebral discs of a healthy and young person is 90 percent fluid. With age, the fluid content decreases, which makes the disc thinner. The area between the vertebrae becomes less effective in its role as a cushion or shock absorber.
  • Disc structure: Very small tears or cracks appear in the outer layer of the disc. The soft and gelatinous material on the inside can penetrate cracks or tears, causing the disc to swell or tear.

The disc may break into fragments. When the vertebrae have fewer pads between them, the spine is more unstable

To compensate for this, the body builds up osteophytes or bone spurs, small bony protrusions that develop along the edge of the bones.

These projections can be pressed against the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots. They can undermine nerve function and cause pain.

Other problems include:

  • Destruction of cartilage
  • A swollen disc known as a herniated disc
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal or spinal stenosis

These changes can affect the nerves, leading to pain, weakness, and numbness.

Risk factors

Age is the biggest risk factor, but some other factors can accelerate the process of degeneration.

They include:

  • Overweight
  • Intensive physical work
  • Smoking
  • Acute or sudden injury, such as from a fall.

Degenerative disc pain can begin when an injury leads to sudden and unexpected back pain. Or it may present as a mild pain that worsens over time.

Types of spinal injections for degenerative disc diseases

Epidural steroid injection

This is one of the most common injections. In many people, an epidural steroid injection (ESI) is effective in reducing back pain caused by a herniated disc.

An epidural steroid injection is aimed at the space around the membrane that covers the spine and nerve roots. This injection sends steroids – very strong, anti-inflammatory drugs – right to the nerve root which is inflamed. This is a pain management therapy, so it can be performed under fluoroscopy (real-time X-ray).

You may need two or three injections, but generally you should not receive more than that because of the potential unpleasant side effects of steroids.

Injection for the facet joint

This injection is only useful if one (or more) of your facet joints are causing pain. A steroid drug (a strong anti-inflammatory) is injected into the protective capsule of the joint. The drug acts to relieve inflammation and reduce joint pain.

Disc injections are mainly used to reduce the pain in the lower back experienced by patients suffering from discopathy. These injections are given using a hypodermic needle that is inserted into the patient’s discs that have been torn due to the disease. Disc injections contain steroids that reduce inflammation and thus provide the patient with immediate relief from back pain.

Surgery

Although most patients with degenerative disc disease respond well to non-surgical treatment, some require surgery. Surgery should be considered only after you have tried several months of non-surgical treatment.

Patients who do not respond to conservative therapies within about 3 months may consider surgery.

This may be an option if you have:

  • Back or leg pain that stops you from doing regular, normal, daily activities
  • Numbness or weakness in the legs
  • Difficulty standing or walking

The following surgical options are available:

Stabilizing surgery

This is the fusion of two vertebrae into one to ensure the stability of the spine. The operation can be done anywhere in the spine, but is done more often in the lower back and neck area. These are the parts of your spine that move the most.

This surgery can relieve extreme pain in patients whose spine can no longer bear their weight, but it can also accelerate disc degeneration in the fused vertebrae.

 

Decompression surgery

In this case, part of the joint of the disc is removed so that the pressure on the nerves can be relieved. A patient who develops osteoarthritis, disc herniation, or spinal stenosis may need other treatments.

Stem cell surgery

The purpose of this surgery is to promote regeneration of functional cartilage using an injectable hydrogel system. The researchers conclude that this operation may be useful for the regeneration of intervertebral discs.

Additionally, you can try some other methods to alleviate the discomfort associated with your condition:

  • Healthy diet. It is advisable to include healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and healthy fats, such as olive oil and / or coconut oil, which will help you maintain a normal body weight. This is because being overweight can put extra pressure on your spine, which in turn can lead to increased back pain.
  • Exercise: Regular, gentle training, including light aerobic and strengthening exercises, can help you deal with the symptoms of degenerative disc disease. Work with a personal trainer who has experience in helping people with spinal conditions. He or she will show you specific exercises that can help relieve pain and other symptoms

 

Your trainer can also develop a detailed, personalized physical therapy program. Regular physical therapy sessions will teach you proper body mechanics, good posture and how to avoid positions that cause pain.

Can we prevent discopathy?

Degenerative disc disease or discopathy is an age-related process. The problems start in the spine, in which the cushioning located between the adjacent vertebrae (bones) deteriorates.

Usually, discopathy is the first event in the cascade of changes that can lead to arthritis and possible complications, such as spinal stenosis. Almost everyone develops at least a few degenerative spinal changes, so you need to make preventive lifestyle adjustments to avoid this potentially painful problem.

 

Keys to prevent degenerative disc disease – discopathy

First of all, it is important to be aware that lifestyle changes are important, but they must involve your active participation.

In other words, there is no pill to help in this case. The key to slowing the rate at which degenerative spinal changes develop is to reduce the causes that can lead to wear and tear on the spine and other joints.

Можем ли да се предпазим от дископатия?

Supplements and herbal medicines that strengthen and / or nourish the musculoskeletal system can generally play a role in maintaining the integrity of the spinal discs. We will talk more about this later in the article.

And now, here are some preventative tips to follow:

 

  • Live an active life and include movement in your daily routine

If you consult a specialist on what to do to prevent disc degeneration, he will probably tell you to exercise. Basically, this means moving your joints over the full range of their  motion- something you need to do regularly.

If walking doesn’t hurt, include it in your regular program. Walking is gentle on the joints and helps increase circulation and muscular endurance and is also good for your heart. The American Exercise Council recommends going for a 30-minute walk (or other aerobic activity) about 5 times a week as a way to maintain your overall health.

But if walking causes pain, swimming is an alternative. As the degenerative changes progress, the movement of the joints may at some point become “bone on bone”, meaning that the disc (its ability to absorb impact) has worn out. In this case, ground exercises can increase your pain. However, exercise in water is very good because it takes a lot of the load on the bones.

Можем ли да се предпазим от дископатия?

Additionally, minimize or avoid altogether actions that involve sharp bending . This does not mean that you should not bend at all, but just do not do exercises that make you bend too much, as this also plays a role in bone wear. You may want to rely on a licensed, qualified discopathy specialist to make sure you are not contributing to the development of your disease.

 

  • Stop smoking or better yet, do not start

It is well known that smoking is associated with many health problems. Disc degeneration is one of them.

Studies show that smoking affects discs in more ways than one, as well as in more than one area. For example, a 2015 study published in the journal PLoS found that there are at least two mechanisms by which smoking can damage discs. It not only reduces the repair activity that takes place at the ends of the disc, but also constricts the blood vessels that are tasked to deliver nutrients to the disc.

The habit of smoking can also worsen back pain. Science is still studying this topic and how smoking affects bone disease, but it is generally believed that it increases any pain.

  • Можем ли да се предпазим от дископатия?Adopt a new dietary approach

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, taking supplements and herbal remedies can prevent or at least slow down the development of discopathy.

The use of diet and possibly some supplements, including herbs, can generally indirectly contribute to the well-being of your discs.

Foods and supplements that support the musculoskeletal system can help maintain healthy bones. Probably the most useful is vitamin D.

A 2016 study involving 110 patients with degenerative disc disease found that nearly half were deficient in vitamin D. Researchers say more studies are needed before they can recommend this particular vitamin, but still, some studies show that vitamin D is also associated with a reduced risk of breaking bones.

Is discopathy genetically transmitted?

This condition of the spine is most often associated with aging, but is it genetic? Over the last decade, research has been done to determine if there is a hereditary factor involved in the condition. Some evidence suggests that lumbar disc disease may indeed be inherited. It is concluded that people with family members who have a degenerative disc are more likely to develop the disease on their own. The data is not 100% convincing but they do show that yes – there may be a genetic component to degenerative lumbar disc disease.

Можем ли да се предпазим от дископатия?

In addition, the study found a potential link between how people perceive pain caused by the disease and heredity. This is in line with other studies that show that pain tolerance and sensitivity can also be inherited, although no pain gene has been found.

However, the level of pain you experience can be avoided if you live a healthy and active lifestyle with regular exercise.

 

Treatment

The degenerative disc can be treated in many ways based on the severity of the condition and the symptoms the patient is experiencing. Treatment should be less invasive at first and gradually intensified.

In the first place, as already mentioned, are:

  • Exercise and physical therapy: If the pain does not prevent you from moving, your overall mobility can be increased by doing certain exercises regularly to strengthen the area around your spine. This can stabilize the affected discs. These exercises include walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, and Pilates. You can also go to a physiotherapist to learn proper walking techniques and exercises for discopathy. Physical activity will provide pain relief and increase your mobility.

Можем ли да се предпазим от дископатия?

  • Other courses of action include:
    • Medications: Doctors may prescribe various medications to control the symptoms and relieve the pain. These may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, analgesics, or steroids. Steroid drugs can be taken orally by the patient or injected into the spine by a doctor under the guidance of X-rays.
    • Surgical treatment: If other treatments are not effective enough, surgery is the other option. The most common operations include artificial disc replacement, spinal fusion, and decompression.
    • Stem cell therapy: Stem cell therapy is a type of regenerative treatment in which stem cells are injected into the degenerative disc. The injected stem cells stimulate healing and regeneration.

What else can lead to discopathy?

  • Injury

Sometimes injuries over time contribute to disc degeneration, even if they were minor.

  • Stress

Daily stress can also cause discopathy.

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  • Lifting heavy objects

Lifting too heavy objects also plays a big role in disc degeneration and discopathy. Therefore, when lifting heavy objects, do not try to lift them on your side or back. Stand with the load in front of you. With your knees bent in a squatting or half-keeling (one knee on the floor) position and your back in a neutral position, lift the object gently and slowly toward your chest. Avoid warping or tilting the body when lifting and lowering.

And if you are lifting weights or just training, follow your coach’s instructions.

Obesity and insufficient water intake can also lead to discopathy.

Tips for self-treatment for discopathy

We must warn you at the outset that when it comes to self-treatment of degenerative disc disease, your doctor should have the floor first. Since this is especially important, do not be surprised that we will repeat this advice a few more times.

Your GP is the person who will advise you to try alternative methods or trust conventional medicine from the start.

But rest assured, in no case will your doctor refer you to the surgical method first. Because we all know that when it comes to treatment of this disease, spinal surgery is by no means at the top of the list!

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If you have degenerative disc disease (DDD) a.k.a. discopathy, you will be familiar with the well-known feeling: back pain or neck pain when sitting or standing for a long time. But what can you do to deal with the pain? Luckily, there are many options for treating DDD. Your treatment plan will most likely include a combination of treatments, such as exercise, physical therapy, and medication.

  • Walking and stretching for back health

Physical therapy and exercise are an important part of a DDD treatment plan. Your doctor may recommend a physiotherapist to teach you specific exercises to help you manage DDD.

Don’t have an ongoing exercise plan? You could, for example, start with walking – take a walk and do a few gentle stretches. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise plan.

  • Acupuncture and herbal medicines

You may want to try alternative treatments for DDD, but see your doctor first. Alternative treatments can help you deal with back pain and help you increase your daily activities, but they can interact with other DDD treatments.

  • Should you try spinal manipulation?

A visit to a chiropractor can help restore or maintain movement in the spine. There are numerous chiropractic techniques, but spinal correction is one of the most common. A series of chiropractic sessions may be needed to help you treat DDD. You must first have a treatment plan in place for your case.

Before attempting a spinal procedure or other chiropractic technique, your doctor will confirm that you have DDD and that your spine is stable.

  • NSAIDs, antidepressants, and other drugs

There are many medications available to help you deal with your DDD symptoms. Your doctor will tell you which medicines to try and when and how often to take them.

Here is a list of some commonly used drugs for DDD:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (e.g. aspirin);
  • Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol);
  • Antidepressants;
  • Muscle relaxants, etc.
  • Surgery – the last resort

Most people with DDD will not need surgery. But how do you know if you need it? If you have been trying non-surgical treatment for several months and those attempts have not reduced the pain and other symptoms of DDD, you may need spinal surgery. Your doctor will explain the possibilities for surgery.

Be alert for serious symptoms, such as tingling and loss of bowel and bladder control. If you notice these symptoms, call your doctor immediately.

 

Alternative treatments for degenerative disc disease (discopathy)

Alternative and integrative health professionals offer acupuncture and herbal therapies to relieve the symptoms of degenerative disc disease.

To treat pain and other symptoms of degenerative disc disease, you can consider alternative treatments. As the name suggests, they are alternatives to drugs, physical therapy, or surgery – the typical “Western” approach to medicine.

You may want to go to a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) specialist, also called an integrative healthcare professional. CAM is a somewhat extensive group of practices and therapies that are not considered part of conventional medicine by some health care providers. CAM or integrative therapies include traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, and massage. Many patients report that these treatments have really helped their condition.

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Acupuncture

Developed in China, acupuncture uses very fine needles – and without drugs – to treat pain. Practitioners believe that you have an energy force called your Chi (also spelled Qi, but both forms are pronounced “chee”).

When this force is blocked, you can develop a physical illness, such as back pain. Therefore, you need to release the qi channels of your body, which practitioners call your meridians. Acupuncture works to restore a healthy, energetic flow of qi.

Acupuncture needles are almost as thin as hair strands. Based on your symptoms and accurate diagnosis, the practitioner will insert the needles; you will most likely have multiple needles inserted during one session. The practitioner will focus on precise points in the meridians of your body, and the needles will remain for 20 to 40 minutes. Acupuncture needles are thought to cause your body to release certain neurochemicals, such as endorphins or serotonin, and they help with the healing process.

Herbal medicines

Before trying any herbal remedies, do some research and talk to your doctor. There may be side effects that you are not aware of – an herbal medicine may interfere with the prescribed medicine you are taking, for example. Some herbal remedies that can help you if you suffer from degenerative disc disease are:

Съвети за самолечение при дископатия

  • Devil’s Claw: Devil’s Claw comes from South Africa, where it has been used for centuries to treat fever, arthritis and gastrointestinal problems. It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Today it is used for conditions that cause inflammation and pain, such as degenerative disc disease. You can take it in a capsule.
  • SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine): SAMe is thought to be useful for age-related spinal diseases, such as osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease. As a bonus, there are several studies that show that it is also good for treating depression. (People suffering from chronic pain can become depressed because of how the pain changes their lives. Their chronic condition can also affect the chemistry of their body’s nervous system, leading to chemical imbalances and possibly depression.)

Съвети за самолечение при дископатия

  • White willow bark: White willow is actually the forerunner of aspirin use in Europe. If you do not want to take the synthetic version (aspirin can irritate the stomach), use white willow bark. It is used for conditions that cause pain or inflammation, such as degenerative disc disease (discopathy). It also provides relief for acute back pain.
  • Prolotherapy: Some patients have tried this treatment and found that it works to reduce their pain from degenerative disc disease. Proponents of prolotherapy explain that one of the problems associated with DDD is weak ligaments and tendons. Strong, supportive ligaments and tendons are essential for your spine because they help maintain stability.

Once your discs begin to degenerate, essentially weakening your spine, your tendons must work very hard to support your back. Over time, however, they can also degenerate – wear out or even tear. This leaves your intervertebral discs without the necessary support.

Prolotherapy tries to stimulate the growth of new ligaments and tendon tissues. Prolotherapy aims to boost the healing process of the body with the injection of “proliferator” (a term used by prolotherapists – it is a slightly irritating solution). The proliferator causes inflammation, which tells the body to begin healing only by generating new tissue.

The prolotherapy injection goes directly into the problematic ligaments and tendons and several series of injections (and time) are needed to test the effectiveness. If you think prolotherapy may be an option for you, talk to your doctor.

 

Possible complications due to discopathy

Discopathy is a progressive disease in which one or more intervertebral discs undergo changes and lose their strength and elasticity. Although we call these degenerative changes a disease, a herniated disc is more of a condition that manifests with age and much less frequently due to trauma or genetic predisposition.

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What is discopathy?

The spine is composed of a series of vertebrae arranged one above the other in an S-shaped column. From top to bottom, these vertebrae are arranged as follows: seven cervical, 12 thoracic, five lumbar, five sacral, and 3 to 5 caudal.

Between them are intervertebral discs, which in simple terms play the role of “shock absorbers” or “cushions”. The task of the discs is to protect the vertebrae of the spine by absorbing tension and load during daily activities such as walking, running, lifting, twisting and others.

Each of these discs is composed of a soft, gelatinous part and a strong outer ring. Over the years and with the age of a person, they gradually begin to lose their water content, reduce their height, and lose their elasticity. Then degenerative processes begin to develop, in which part of the gelatin nucleus can go beyond its hard shell, enter the spinal canal, and press on the nerve roots. This causes severe pain, stiffness, change in movement, and a bunch of other problems. This condition is called discopathy (disc herniation) or degenerative disc disease.

 

Factors influencing the development of disc herniation

Age is one of the biggest risk factors for the appearance of this disease, because as we have already mentioned, as we age, the discs naturally shrink and lose their elasticity. According to global health experts, almost everyone over the age of 60 has some form of discopathy.

Other factors that have a significant impact on the occurrence of this disease are:

  • Improper posture
  • Improper lifting of heavy objects
  • Constantly repetitive actions
  • Overweight
  • Obesity
  • Back injuries in accidents
  • Injuries caused by physical exertion
  • Car accidents
  • Not very dynamic lifestyle, and others

Symptoms of the disease

Discopathy can occur in all areas of the spine, but most commonly occurs in the lower back or neck. The symptoms that occur depend a lot on which disc is damaged (worn) and whether a nerve is pinched and which one.

The most common symptoms include pain that affects the following areas:

  • Lower back
  • Extends from the waist to the back of the legs
  • Extends from neck to arms
  • Intensifies (worsens) when lifting heavy, twisting, or bending
  • Manifested when sitting

Depending on the form and extent of the disease, the pain may be severe for a short time and then go away, but it can also worsen and lead to muscle weakness and even atrophy. It is quite possible that the disease is completely asymptomatic.

Complications of disc herniation

If this degenerative condition is not treated in time and corrective measures are not taken, the disease can worsen and lead to osteoarthritis (OA). In this form of OA, the vertebrae rub against each other because there is nothing left of the intervertebral discs. This can cause not only severe pain, but also problems such as:

  • Stiffness
  • Restrictions on activities that can be performed
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Insensitivity in the arms and legs
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Depressed states, etc., etc.

And this is not the only possible complication.

If the symptoms of the disease are ignored, it can lead to quite severe permanent nerve damage and, in rare cases, to the interruption of nerve impulses to the nerves in the lower back and legs. This means that the intestines or bladder cannot be controlled.

Another long-term complication is known as saddle anesthesia. In this case, the deformed disc compresses the nerves and sensation is lost on the inside of the thighs, the back of the legs and around the rectum.

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Diagnosis of degenerative disease

In the presence of one or more of the symptoms just listed, urgent measures should be taken to identify the type of disease and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Modern medicine has several effective tools for diagnosing disc herniation:

●  Visual inspection and conversation with a specialist

The doctor talks to the patient, considers the risk factors that could be the cause of the symptoms and prescribes additional tests or treatment.

●   X-ray

X-rays reveal possible degenerative changes in the vertebrae of the spine and changes, wear, or narrowing of the intervertebral discs.

●  Computed tomography

CT reveals vertebral dislocations, disc changes, spinal stenosis, and other conditions.

●  Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging

MRI can determine the height, shape and degree of erosion of the disc, whether there are pinched nerves, and more.

 

Treatment of degenerative disease

Depending on the degree of the disease, the treatment that can be applied can be conservative (medication, physiotherapy, couches, exercise) or surgical.

Surgical treatment is recommended only in cases where the degree of disc herniation is very advanced and none of the methods of conservative treatment can alleviate it.

Medication usually involves prescribing over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, or other painkillers to stop inflammation and reduce pain. If over-the-counter medications do not help, then your doctor may prescribe stronger medications such as muscle relaxants.

Physiotherapy is performed by specialists who use specific methods that help strengthen the back muscles and relieve pain. This method gives quite good results, especially if combined with drug treatment.

Exercise for back pain involves the use of a set of exercises of varying complexity depending on the form and severity of the disease.

And as for inversion tables, in recent years more and more experts recommend them as one of the most effective means of reducing the pain of discopathy.

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How do inversion tables help with discopathy?

This type of exercise and exercise equipment uses gravity to reduce pain, stretch the vertebrae, and reduce spinal compression.

How do they “work”?

As already mentioned, this type of device uses the weight of the human body and the earth’s gravity to bring relief to the spine and relaxation of various muscle groups. In order to start “working” to treat and reduce the pain of discopathy, all the patient has to do is lie on the inversion table, lean forward and relax. While on the table he can do exercises or just hang upside down.

What are the benefits of inversion devices for those suffering from discopathy?

It has been proven that a seven-minute “hanging” upside down on an inversion table counteracts gravity, and has a beneficial effect on the spine. During exercise, the pressure in the spine is relieved and the vertebrae are spaced apart. This significantly relieves the pain caused by the disc herniation.

Regular exercises on the inversion table also help to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Normalize blood circulation
  • Increase the overall tone of the body
  • Relax muscle groups
  • Increase flexibility

When is the effect of inversion table exercises felt?

Over 95% of those suffering from low back and back pain who have used this device indicate that they have felt relief with the first use of an inversion table. Only after 5 to 7 minutes of using this device, those suffering from severe pain felt much more mobile, toned, and energized. Low back and back pain decreased dramatically and their movements become more energetic.

Why do we have leg pain in discopathy?

Why discopathy in some cases affects the legs, and in others – the hands

Discopathy is a disease associated with the spine and more specifically with the intervertebral discs. It can occur in any area of ​​the spine. Its development without treatment leads to excruciating pain and “stiffness” of certain areas along the back, severe pain, and immobility of the arms or legs.

If the problem is with the discs of the cervical spine, the pain affects the neck, shoulders and arms, and makes it impossible for them to move. Most often, however, the problem occurs in the lumbar region, because this is where the tension of the spine is greatest. Then we talk about leg pain in discopathy, which initially starts from the lower back and “stiffens” it in grows. Over time, a chronic disease develops.

If the disease has affected discs between the vertebrae in the upper chest area, the manifestations are similar to cervical discopathy. If the problem affects the intervertebral discs in the lower chest, the pain and immobility are the same as in lumbar discopathy. However, thoracic discopathy is the rarest – up to 2 percent of all cases, because the area is not as movable as the lumbar and cervical regions, and is not uses as much.

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What exactly is discopathy

The spine is under great stress even when we are just standing, sitting or walking slowly. To keep us upright, the spine resists gravity. This vertical load is greatest in the lumbar compartment. In addition, it is from this area of ​​the spine that we make various movements – twists, bends, and stretching backward.

This tension increases if a person is overweight or at work, or is taking part in sports or in any more intense activity. To protect the vertebrae from damage during this vertical load, there are discs between them that serve as buffers.

These discs also provide mobility to the spine. The disc itself is made of a dense, jelly-like mass surrounded by a fibrous ring that, like a capsule, protects the core and ensures the elasticity of the disc.

Various causes can lead the discs to become overloaded. This may be related to one’s profession – for example, physical work with lifting or carrying heavy items; stiff and continuously unchanged positions, such as in a production line, in front of the computer, or when driving long distances, as by professional drivers.

Improper posture, walking in high heels, distortions when frequently carrying a heavy bag over the shoulder, etc. can contribute to the problem. Disc damage can also result from genetic predisposition to spinal abnormalities, trauma, metabolic disorders, and more.

However, the most common cause of discopathy is degenerative changes that occur over the years. The tissues weaken and the discs wear out, lose some of their fluid, their elasticity decreases, and internal cracks and tears occur on their ring. This is like an assault on the disk, causing displacement of its nucleus and change in the shape of its ring. As a result, it swells slightly.

If it ruptures, part of the pithy nucleus comes out and presses the adjacent nerve from the spinal cord, causing pain. Fragments of the nucleus can also enter the spinal canal, where they press on nerve roots or the spinal cord itself. Then, depending on the specific where this occurs, we are talking about leg pain in discopathy or arm pain in discopathy.

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Direct and indirect symptoms of discopathy

Nerve compression is a serious health problem that can lead to various complications and be accompanied by a variety of symptoms. Some of them are indirect symptoms, which in early diagnosis can still lead doctors to the disease and make the treatment of discopathy easier. That is why it is important for people not to ignore the appearance of discomfort or to self-medicate, but to seek medical advice.

Discopathy, for example, may be accompanied by the appearance of “unexpected” autonomic disorders such as fever and increased sweating, swelling of the legs, and dry skin. Indirect signs can be problems with menstruation and potency, urinary disorders, and even constipation. This can occur if the discopathy affects the lumbar and sacral sections (in the lower back, hips, and groin).

Of course, these symptoms may be from other diseases, so it should be assessed as to whether they are combined with some of the specific signs of discopathy. Characteristic of discopathy is the stiffness of movements in the morning, numbness of the limbs, relaxed muscles, as well as dull pain that occurs when lifting. Numbness in the area is also common, which patients liken to a dagger with needles, crawling on the skin, or tickling. Another symptom is if the pain that occurs with each movement – even sneezing and coughing – is less in an upright position than when sitting and lying down.

Here the symptoms must be distinguished, for example, from intercostal neuralgia, which the diagnosis will do.

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Characteristics of pain in discopathy

As already mentioned, pain in discopathy according to the area where the disease occurred, can affect the arms, neck, shoulders, legs, even in some cases the rectum and perineum – the soft parts in the erogenous zone, which is in the “bottom” of the lesser pelvis.

The pain usually intensifies when moving. Discomfort occurs when waking up in the morning because the disc has been in a static position for a long time and is now moving. The pain often resembles muscle pain. It is also important to locate the site of discomfort – in an intervertebral hernia, it is usually in one part of the body.

Pain and tingling in discopathy have characteristic features according to the affected area of ​​the spine. In lumbar discopathy, the pain is usually on the outside of the leg, in the back. The legs lose their sensitivity, there are usually tingling in the lower spine, legs, and buttocks.

In thoracic discopathy, the pain is in the chest area, affecting the hands as well. Discomfort may occur when the body rotates, and tingling between the shoulder blades is typical. These symptoms of a herniated disc are often confused with manifestations of heart disease. In cervical and thoracic discopathy, in addition to the pain hindering movement in the neck, shoulder joints, and arms, headaches can also occur. The discomfort is intensified by bending and turning the head, dizziness, as well as weakening of attention, concentration, and memory may occur.

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Diagnosis and treatment of discopathy

Imaging is used to diagnose discopathy using various technologies. Among them are X-rays, in which degenerative lesions are found in different projections – from intervertebral strictures to fractures and metastases. Another test is computed tomography to detect disc damage and tears. Magnetic resonance imaging provides the most accurate and complete information about the condition of the vertebrae, discs, and neuralgia.

Myelography is now used to a lesser extent, although it has long been actively used for diagnosis. In it, a contrast material is introduced into the spinal canal, after which an X-ray is made. Today, non-invasive methods are mainly used.

There are different ways to go about the treatment of discopathy – through drugs, programs of specialized exercises, inversion therapy, skeletal traction, electrical stimulation, massages, and more. In principle, active movements are limited first and the motor activity is gradually expanded, combining different loads and complete rest.

Analgesics, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids are also used. The purpose is to relieve the pain of irritation of the compressed nerves and to reduce the swelling in the disc. Not only should the pain be relieved, but the general condition of the disc should be improved.

At the doctor’s discretion, a combination with muscle relaxants can be made, special bandages can also be prescribed, or – if it is for cervical discopathy – collars. Usually, the combination of different methods has greater effectiveness and gives a faster recovery time.

Surgical treatment is a last resort when pain cannot be eliminated in conservative ways. The part of the disc compressing the nerve is removed.